May 17, 2021

'Blood on the couch', the delirious story of Hugo Chávez's psychiatrist | Culture

'Blood on the couch', the delirious story of Hugo Chávez's psychiatrist | Culture



Constituent, former presidential candidate, exrector of the Central University of Venezuela, founder of the College of Psychologists, with specializations in neuropsychiatry in Cambridge, Oxford and Marseille, the doctor and psychiatrist Edmundo Chirinos was, until 2008, a very respected personality in Venezuela. Frequently consulted to discuss politics or diagnose daily social problems in the press and television, he was a personal therapist of three former presidents: Jaime Lusinchi (1984-1989), Rafael Caldera (1969-1974 and 1994-1999) and his own Hugo Chávez Frías (1999-2013).

In July of that year, Chirinos unexpectedly entered the pages of police events, once he was found responsible for the murder of the young Roxana Vargas, one of his patients, in his own office. Both maintained a sentimental relationship. Although many people did not want to believe it, and Chirinos himself rejected the accusations with vehemence, subsequent investigations yielded a chilling result. The case was one of the most commented judicial scandals in the history of the country: the doctor was found and confiscated at home 1,200 photographs and videos of naked women, patients sedated and abused by himself who reposed as a personal collection at home during years. At trial, at least 14 women witnessed being abused in the consultations.

Time later, the director and actor Héctor Manrique took to the tables Blood on the couch, an acclaimed monologue that recreates the psychopathic profile of Chirinos. Manrique's work is based on the book of the same name, which was also a sales record, written by the journalist Ibéyise Pacheco.

An indefatigable cultural and political activist, Manrique has traveled all over the Venezuelan geography, Miami and Mexico, to stage in the tables the story of this tropical version of Hannibal Lecter, in which one of the most spectacular paradoxes of Venezuela's news scene is locked up. Blood on the couch disembarks in Madrid, with four functions in the Figaro Theater, on November 26 and 27 and December 3 and 4, before leaving for Santiago de Chile.

"Do not trust reputations"

According to the director, the central message of the work has a universal reading: be careful who you have next. Do not trust reputations consecrated. "What Chirinos did does not necessarily describe a country. It is a very common occurrence among psychiatrists. What I do believe is that his case is the consequence of a society of accomplices, "he says. "I am outraged to see that in the Venezuelan Society of Psychiatry nobody has yet opened their mouths about this case. The stories of Chirinos doing Don Juan with his patients were a secret poorly kept in Caracas. We are very permissive, very friendly, in the Caribbean in particular. That is tragic. We need greater walls of contention, greater ethical convictions. "

Chirinos was a character close to Manrique himself, a man of culture who is the son of a historical leader of the Venezuelan left, Héctor Rodríguez Bauza. The psychiatrist and the father of Manrique studied together the demanding militancy in the Communist Party of Venezuela in the 60s and had a good personal relationship for decades.

Neither Manrique, nor his father, nor many other people, wanted to believe in principle that the accusations against Chirinos were true. "We are talking about a very close character in my house. Edmundo is the godfather of my younger brother. "

Prisoner in his house during the time of the trial, Chirinos continued attending patients and granting interviews while he was allowed. In all of them he continued affirming his innocence repeatedly, and at the same time evidenced clear symptoms of his sudden mental deterioration. Chirinos was found guilty, sentenced to 30 years in prison and held in the Yare Prison, where he held therapeutic consultations for some prisoners. He died of a stroke in 2013, at 78 years old.

Defined by Manrique as "an unpresentable character", the director tells that he spent a whole year preparing to interpret it, studying his hairstyle, his particular pout and his unmistakable and affected tone of voice. Some demanding sessions that forced him to lose a few kilos and to do continuous Pilates sessions. "I thought that this work was going to be a failure, I have not stopped presenting myself with it since we inaugurated it".

"I have two daughters, who serve as an impulse to everything I do," says Manrique. "I did a little for them, thinking about them, also presenting this paradox: open your eyes to this type of situation. What happens is that moral judgment can not go to the stage. Otherwise you could not interpret it. "

And although he does not like to generalize, and can agree that there will always be examples that allow to affirm the opposite, Manrique wants to share with his audience a controversial conclusion of a personal nature: "I would never let myself be cared for by a psychiatrist".

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